New Delhi, Jan 25 (Agencies): Embattled Suresh Kalmadi on Tuesday hit back at the Sports Minister, terming his sacking from the chairmanship of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee as "illegal and uncalled for."

A day after he was sacked as CWG OC chairman by the new Sports Minister Ajay Maken, Kalmadi remained defiant and said that only the Indian Olympic Association, which has appointed him to the post, has the power to remove him.

He said that he would hand over the charge of OC chairman to the Chief Executive Jarnail Singh -- as has been told to do by the Sports Minister -- under protest.

"I am shocked to receive Order dated 24th January 2011, illegally and arbitrarily removing me from the position of Chairman of the Executive Board and the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games," Kalmadi wrote in a letter to Maken.

"Without prejudice to my rights and contention and in furtherance of my letter wherein it has been stated that the order is illegal and without any jurisdiction, I am handing the charge under protest," he said.

Kalmadi contested the Sports Ministry's reasoning that he was removed form his post to ensure "unhindered" probe into alleged corruption in the conduct of the CWG, claiming that he and the OC officials have been cooperating with the various investigating agencies.

"At the outset it is important for me to point out that I have extended all possible cooperation to all investigating agencies, including the CBI. Further, I have even specifically directed the entire OC, including the CEO, to whom all FA heads report since 2009, to extend all assistance possible to the CBI and cooperate with them to the fullest extent.

"I have even written to the CBI stating I am available to assist them at any given point of time. In light of the above, the concerns expressed by the CBI are unfounded and the Order dated 24th January 2011 is uncalled for," he said.

Kalmadi said as per the Host City contract for the CWG, the OC was established by the IOA and therefore the Sports Ministry was not legally empowered to remove him.

"I was elected as OC chairman by IOA General assembly on November 1, 2004. The IOA is an independent autonomous body and, as per the Olympic Charter, must remain free from Government interference. It is also relevant to point out that as per Host City contract for the Games it is responsibility of the IOA to establish the OC. The Sports Ministry is therefore not legally empowered to remove me," he said.

"I must point out, that the OC is an autonomous society registered under Societies Registration Act. As chairman of the society, I can only be removed in accordance with the constitutional documents of the society. In view thereof, the Order dated 24th January 2011 ought not to have been issued as the same is without any jurisdiction. The Order dated 24th January 2011 has been issued as a kneejerk reaction to the prejudice created by certain sections of media," he added.

Kalmadi said considering his involvement in public life and sports administration for so many years, he should have been give a chance to be heard under the principles of natural justice and would have resigned voluntarily had the Sports Ministry had asked so.

"I have a long and distinguished career in public service and sports administration. I served the Indian Air force for 10 years, including during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars as an Air Force Pilot. I have been a Member of Parliament since 1982, and am currently serving as a Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha representing my constituency, Pune. I also served as a Minister of State for Railways.

"I have also organised various National Games and been dedicated to the development of sports in India. Having spent several decades in public life, I would not be unjustified in expecting at least the courtesy of being heard and a decision being taken in accordance with the principles of natural justice. I would like to say that if I was asked by the Sports Ministry, I would have consulted my colleagues and resigned voluntarily," said Kalmadi.

Kalmadi reiterated his oft-quoted defence of the allegations of widespread corruption, saying the role of the OC was limited in scope to the conduct of the Games with its budgetary allocation being less than five per cent of the total expenditure.

"I am proud that we not only conducted and hosted a successful event, but India also delivered a stellar performance and won a record number of medals in the Commonwealth Games," he said.

"We worked hard to bring the CWG to India for the first time ever. The OC, under my chairmanship has worked tirelessly for over 5 years to deliver successful Games that India can be proud of. Despite the adverse publicity we ensured the participation of all 71 countries.

"I am anguished that instead of being commended for my efforts at putting up such a spectacular show, the OC is being unfairly singled out and that I have been served with a decision of this nature," said Kalmadi.